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Nili Harnik, Judith Perlwitz, and Tiffany A. Shaw

Abstract

Downward wave coupling dominates the intraseasonal dynamical coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere in the Southern Hemisphere. The coupling occurs during late winter and spring when the stratospheric basic state forms a well-defined meridional waveguide, which is bounded above by a reflecting surface. This basic-state configuration is favorable for planetary wave reflection and guides the reflected waves back down to the troposphere, where they impact wave structures. In this study decadal changes in downward wave coupling are analyzed using the Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) dataset.

A cross-spectral correlation analysis, applied to geopotential height fields, and a wave geometry diagnostic, applied to zonal-mean zonal wind and temperature data, are used to understand decadal changes in planetary wave propagation. It is found that downward wave 1 coupling from September to December has increased over the last three decades, owing to significant increases at the beginning and end of this 4-month period. The increased downward wave coupling is caused by both an earlier onset of the vertically bounded meridional waveguide configuration and a persistence of this configuration into December. The latter is associated with the observed delay in vortex breakup. The results point to an additional dynamical mechanism whereby the stratosphere has influenced the tropospheric climate in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Tiffany A. Shaw, Judith Perlwitz, Nili Harnik, Paul A. Newman, and Steven Pawson

Abstract

The impact of stratospheric ozone changes on downward wave coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere in the Southern Hemisphere is investigated using a suite of Goddard Earth Observing System chemistry–climate model (GEOS CCM) simulations. Downward wave coupling occurs when planetary waves reflected in the stratosphere impact the troposphere. In reanalysis data, the climatological coupling occurs from September to December when the stratospheric basic state has a well-defined high-latitude meridional waveguide in the lower stratosphere that is bounded above by a reflecting surface, called a bounded wave geometry. Reanalysis data suggests that downward wave coupling during November–December has increased during the last three decades.

The GEOS CCM simulation of the recent past captures the main features of downward wave coupling in the Southern Hemisphere. Consistent with the Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Application (MERRA) dataset, wave coupling in the model maximizes during October–November when there is a bounded wave geometry configuration. However, the wave coupling in the model is stronger than in the MERRA dataset, and starts earlier and ends later in the seasonal cycle. The late season bias is caused by a bias in the timing of the stratospheric polar vortex breakup.

Temporal changes in stratospheric ozone associated with past depletion and future recovery significantly impact downward wave coupling in the model. During the period of ozone depletion, the spring bounded wave geometry, which is favorable for downward wave coupling, extends into early summer, due to a delay in the vortex breakup date, and leads to increased downward wave coupling during November–December. During the period of ozone recovery, the stratospheric basic state during November–December shifts from a spring configuration back to a summer configuration, where waves are trapped in the troposphere, and leads to a decrease in downward wave coupling. Model simulations with chlorine fixed at 1960 values and increasing greenhouse gases show no significant changes in downward wave coupling and confirm that the changes in downward wave coupling in the model are caused by ozone changes. The results reveal a new mechanism wherein stratospheric ozone changes can affect the tropospheric circulation.

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